Gov. Edwards issues statewide Emergency Declaration in response to malware attack


BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide Emergency Declaration in response to what he called “an ongoing cybersecurity incident that is affecting several local government agencies.”

Click here to see the Emergency Declaration.

According to a release from the governor’s office late Wednesday afternoon, the declaration makes available state resources and allows for assistance from cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services and others to assist local governments in responding to and preventing future data loss.

It also says the cybersecurity incident has already impacted school systems in Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes in North Louisiana. The state is in contact with parish school systems and governments across the state to assess further areas that may be at risk.

The Sabine Parish School Board posted a notice on their Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon, saying they were hit with an electronic virus early Sunday morning that disabled some of the district’s technology systems and their central office phone system.

They say staff reported the electronic viral attack to local law enforcement, state officials, and the FBI.

Neither the Sabine Parish School Board post or Gov. Edwards’ statement references whether any student or employee data has been compromised.

Additionally, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has activated its Crisis Action Team and also the Emergency Services Function-17 to coordinate the response to this cybersecurity incident. So far, the state is coordinating with the FBI, state agencies and higher education partners.

“The state was made aware of a malware attack on a few north Louisiana school systems and we have been coordinating a response ever since,” Gov. Edwards said in the statement. “This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cybersecurity attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat.”

In 2017, Gov. Edwards established the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission which is a statewide partnership comprised of key stakeholders, subject matter experts, and cybersecurity professionals from Louisiana’s public sector, private industry, academia, and law enforcement.

This is the first activation of Louisiana’s emergency support function relating to cybersecurity, which is newly created in Louisiana, in anticipation of the threat of cyber attacks. Right now, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard, GOHSEP, the state Office of Technology Services, and other agencies are coordinating the response and determining future actions.

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